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Lion Links: 12/5/21

Orlando City linked with Uruguayan winger, Dike left off USMNT December squad, Pride’s coaching target leaves UCLA, and more.

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MLS: Playoffs- Round One-Orlando City SC at Nashville SC Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Sunday, Mane Landers! Rub those eyes, pour some coffee, and pull up to a heaping helping of Lion Links.

Report: Lions Linked to Uruguayan Winger Facundo Torres

Reports out of South America have linked Orlando City with a move for 21-year-old Uruguayan winger Facundo Torres of Peñarol. The young attacking player would fit the MLS Under-22 Initiative perfectly, as a developing player. If signed to that type of contract, it would take up one of Orlando City’s Designated Player slots. Torres has 10 appearances with the Uruguayan national team since getting his first cap in 2021, but has yet to score for La Celeste at the senior level. He has 10 goals in 49 games with Peñarol over the last two seasons — five each in 2020 and 2021. The Lions could use a dynamic winger after opting not to pick up the option on Nani’s contract and losing Chris Mueller to Scottish side Hibernian. The release fee per the linked story is a hefty one, at $20 million, although the story indicates Peñarol may be open to taking less — in the neighborhood of $14 million. Either way, it would represent a club record transfer for Orlando. We will continue to track this rumor, but it’s worth noting that Torres has also been linked with a possible move to LAFC, Brazil, and Europe.

Dike Not Invited to December USMNT Camp

Orlando City striker Daryl Dike was not called into the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 26-man December training camp by coach Gregg Berhalter in preparation for a Dec. 18 friendly in Los Angeles against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Athletic’s Sam Stesjkal reported ($) Berhalter left Dike out so he could rest after logging “nearly 3,300 minutes in 49 games in 2021, all while dealing with a series of different knocks.” According to Stesjkal, Berhalter told reporters on Friday:

“He’s had a long year. He’s beat up, he needs recovery and the most important thing at this time for Daryl is to get rest and recovery so that he can focus on coming back into January and building himself up again.”

Reported Pride Coaching Target Departs UCLA

The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf reported this week that the Orlando Pride intend to hire UCLA women’s soccer coach Amanda Cromwell as the club’s new head coach. UCLA announced on Friday that Cromwell is “departing for other opportunities.” The Pride have yet to publicly announce a hiring, the club’s postseason contract decisions, or any trades that might have been completed before Friday’s deadline, aside from sending Jodie Taylor to expansion side San Diego Wave FC.

Portland Wins Western Conference Final; Philadelphia Loses 11 Players for Today’s Eastern Final

Real Salt Lake’s Cinderella story came to a close with a 2-0 loss at Portland Saturday night. Felipe More scored five minutes into the game to put the Timbers ahead 1-0 early. Santiago Moreno added a goal in the 61st minute on a shot off the post that hit the back of goalkeeper David Ochoa and bounced in to make it 2-0. Portland will host MLS Cup regardless of who wins the Eastern Conference final.

The Philadelphia Union will be at a serious disadvantage in today’s MLS Eastern Conference final (ABC, 3 p.m.) because 11 of its players are listed as “out” due to the league’s Health and Safety protocols. Team captain Alejandro Bedoya, goalkeeper Andre Blake, attacker Sergio Santos, and the Union’s entire starting back line from its last match are among the 11 players who will miss the game due to quarantine. While NYCFC also will not be at full strength as 2021 MLS Golden Boot award winner Taty Castellanos sits out after receiving a red card in NYCFC’s semifinal win over New England on Tuesday night, the Pigeons are obviously in a much better position than the Union.

Free Kicks:
  • Former Lion Chris Mueller announced his arrival to Hibernian Friday on social media.

And his new club announced him to fans on Saturday.

  • Mexican wrestling meets Mexican soccer in this kit release. What do you think? I don’t want one but I do want to re-watch Nacho Libre now.

Keep your eyes peeled this week for confirmation (or not) of the report that the Pride are close to trading Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris to NJ/NY Gotham FC.

Have a great week, Mane Landers!